I’ve been feeling uncomfortable for several minutes now, but I refuse to look up.
Last time I had this feeling, there was a cat in the doorway, wearing my shoes and going through my purse.
It’s not long before I can no longer bear it.
I look up from my computer.
Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, is perched on the coffee table. Primly upright, her tail wrapped tightly, she is staring in a distant, distracted sort of way.
The cat’s greenly gleaming eyes are on me. She lifts one front paw, casually extends her claws one at a time.
“What’s going on, cat?”
Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, blinks slowly. “Does anything seem amiss?”
I frown. Remembering my New Year’s resolution to stop frowning when I’m thinking, I press my fingertips against my forehead, smooth my brows.
“I’ve been writing,” I say. “I notice nothing when I’m writing.”
The cat smiles slyly. “Hmm,” she says.
I wave my right hand at her irritably in a get-on-with-it kind of way.
“I think,” the cat says, “that Fuzzwald’s been in the house.”
Fuzzwald Tiberius Stripersson, of the foundation garment industry Striperssons, convicted of Impersonating an Endangered Species (a felony in the State of Minnesota), one-time drummer for Liza Bean’s first band, a Band of Biteys, and the cat that both broke her heart and her bank account.
I set my laptop on the coffee table.
“What makes you think this?”
She looks away, and I see that she is nervous. “The Whisker Lickins are gone.”
I shake my head. “Have you looked at Dolly Gee lately?” I look around the room quickly for the other cat, a Siamese/Tabby mix with a gambling problem and a soft spot for the snacks. “She’s built,” I whisper, “like a speed bump.”
Liza Bean shakes her head. “There’s a single glass in the kitchen sink,” she says. “And a squeezed-out lime in the garbage can.”
I frown again, then quickly un-frown. Cats are quite fond of gin and tonics...
“Maybe Dolly –“
“You know very well that Dolly quit drinking after that home-shopping debacle.”
“Still – “
“Pearl,” the cat interrupts. “He left this.” Liza Bean reaches, mysteriously, under her left front leg, pulls out a business card.
“Fuzzwald T. Stripersson,” it reads. “Cat Rescue.”
“Dagnabit,” I say.
What could Fuzzy possibly want?